I have located my lost family members. How can DNA tests help?

Jun 3, 2016 | Science and Technology

Once you have located unknown family members, wouldn’t you like to know if you are, in fact, biologically related to them? People researching their family tree spend large amounts of time and money during their research. Wouldn’t you like to know if the results you find are accurate? A DNA test can give you that information. The tests performed can be helpful in determining many different family relationships and help you expand your family tree. DNA testing can be a valuable tool to help people who are interested in tracing their genealogy or ancestry.

DNA Tests for Ancestry

A DNA test can provide valuable information about biological relationships between potential living relatives. These tests can provide information that can lead to linking common ancestors and answer otherwise unanswered questions about a person’s family tree. The results of a DNA test could help you find unknown family members and provide information that leads to finding out what geographic location your ancestors migrated from.

There are many options offered by accredited laboratories that could help the search for answers about possible family relationships. A siblingship test can be conducted to determine if two children share one or both parents. Genetic reconstruction can be done to determine whether or not someone is related to a parent’s close relatives, such as an uncle or aunt. It is an indirect way of determining family relationships when the possible father is unavailable for testing. DNA tests can also be done to determine if someone is a descendant of a Native American and to determinegrandparentage.

Y-STR and mtDNA Technology

These tests are a result of advances in DNA testing technology that could give people researching their ancestry definitive answers. In addition to other forms of technology, accredited laboratories use a combination of two types of tests. The Y-STR Paternal Lineage Test and the mtDNA Maternal Lineage Test can determine lines of ancestry to determine relationships between more distant relatives.

The Y-STR test is used to determine whether or not two or more males are related through their fathers (through the paternal or male line). The results of this test are used to confirm biological relatives. This test examines the Y chromosome because the information carried on them is inherited largely intact over time. The information carried on this chromosome remains relatively unchanged over generations. Although some mutations occasionally occur, the Y chromosome is not changed with each new generation. Therefore, an actual genetic record of a male line going back through time exists as clear a marker of paternal heritage as a father’s family name.

A tangible timekeeper of history, the Y chromosome allows us to trace human evolution, track migration patterns, determine relatedness in groups of people, and answer paternity questions going back generations. Although Y-STR analysis cannot distinguish between males who belong to the same paternal line, it is useful for excluding males from an alleged biological relationship. For example, if a male child and his alleged paternal uncle are tested, their Y-STR profiles must match in order to determine a biological familial relationship. If they do not match, then the possible uncle is excluded as a biological relative of the child.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited through the maternal line. This means that all sons and daughters inherit their mother’s mtDNA. mtDNA is maternally inherited which enables researchers to trace lineage far back in time. The mutations that occur in mtDNA over time make certain regions of the mtDNA very unique to a family line. Biologists can build an evolutionary tree depending on how conserved or divergent the sequences happen to be. This test will determine if two people share a common female ancestor.

Where the Y-STR test can only be performed on males, determining ancestry along the paternal line, the mtDNA test can be performed on both males and females. The mtDNA test gives answers to help form connections along the mother’s familial line. Everyone from the same maternal line will have similar mtDNA sequences.


  1. Vivian

    I was contacted and told that family friends have reason to believe that my father is the father of 2 siblings. If i give them a DNA sample will that help them to find out the truth as to know if my father is also their father?

    • DDC

      Hi, Vivian. Yes, it can. Although with a half-sibling test you’re more likely to get conclusive results if the mothers are able and willing to participate. Of course, the ultimate best scenario is for them to test with your father, if he’s living and willing.

  2. Barbara

    I’ve wanted to see what kind of trible blood I have can DNA
    Help see what type of bloodline I come from

    • DDC

      Hi, Barbara. There is no DNA test that can tell you what Native-American tribe you may or not be part of. Sorry!


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